Simon Doherty, founder of award winning Cardiff Brewery Pipes and Sam Holt, who runs EggSeeds, have inspired attendees at Cardiff School of Management (CSM)'s fourth Business Club event to get involved in social minded business and become 'problem solvers.'
Speaking about the Cardiff Hops project, which is a collaboration of individuals and community growers like Cardiff Met's Community Garden, which grows hops for Pipes' Taff Temptress brew, businessman Simon provided insight into setting up his business with just £2,000.
The Hop Initiative, which has grown from 24 growers to 170 in its first five years, is led by Sam Holt, Founder of EggSeeds, who joined Simon to speak at CSM Business Club, the popular gathering of industry experts which is held 'to celebrate connections and make new ones'.
Simon, whose love of brewing was kick started by a fermentation kit from his dad when he was 16, borrowed £2,000 from a friend to buy steel kegs for his start-up company Artisan Brewing Company and the Pipes brand, which was initially born Bare Naked Beers but renamed after a two-year battle with giant brand Pepsi.
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Simon told the audience of entrepreneurs, food industry experts, academics and community representatives: "My top tips to anyone starting up would be don't start too small; get sound legal advice on equity and get contracts drawn up; don't get stung.
"Also, become a problem solver – that's what I am – and be prepared that banks won't lend you any money. They still won't lend to me and mine is a profitable business, so get some money behind you. Dare to be different and follow your dream. Follow your passion."
Simon opened up about his run-in with potential investors who shifted a 40% equity proposition to 80% and saw the £100,000 investment he had ploughed into building and developing his premises over nine months disassembled within a single day.
Sam Holt, Founder of EggSeeds, who came to Cardiff in 2001 to study medicine, overcame mental health problems by working on his local allotment, engaging with his local community and developing a number of sustainability projects including Cardiff Hops, which was founded five years ago.
Comparing social minded business to a plant that is supported by its connections and relationships to the soil, he gave an insight into being a social entrepreneur focused on full cost recovery and advised about charging appropriately to be able to reinvest. He spoke with passion about supporting local economies and developing skills around food and growing.
He said: "The people who want to be involved in the Hop Project are people like Simon who are going to take on a financial risk for the community while supporting their local economy. People share the fact that they are a part of it, so the PR aspect takes on a life of its own."
Afterwards he joined a panel discussion with Simon, Martin Sutherland; Commercial and Marketing Director at the University's ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre and Dewi Gray, Business Start Up Manager at Cardiff Met's Centre for Entrepreneurship.
CSM's Business Club offers students and attendees the opportunity to make new contacts, learn about new topics and to gain information about the wealth of support services the University offers, including expert consultancy, resources and business support from the University's Food Industry Centre (Zero2Five) and Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab); work placements, courses, and qualifications.